There are a lot of reasons to choose Debian as your operating system – as a user, as a developer, and even in enterprise environments. Most users appreciate the stability, and the smooth upgrade processes of both packages and the entire distribution. Debian is also widely used by software and hardware developers because it runs on numerous architectures and devices, offers a public bug tracker and other tools for developers. If you plan to use Debian in a professional environment, there are additional benefits like LTS versions and cloud images.

An operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run. Debian uses the Linux kernel (the core of an operating system), but most of the basic OS tools come from the GNU project; hence the name GNU/Linux. The Debian Project is an association of individuals who have made common cause to create a free operating system. This operating system that we have created is called Debian GNU/Linux, or simply Debian for short.

If you are interested in giving Debian a try on your current computer without running any risk, please check out our Guide: Running Linux From a USB Drive As a Virtual Machine or Bootable Disk.

Debian systems currently use the Linux kernel. Linux is a piece of software started by Linus Torvalds and supported by thousands of programmers worldwide.

Is Debian free?

Debian is made of free and open source software and will always be 100% free. Free for anyone to use, modify, and distribute. This is our main promise to our users. It's also free of cost.

You may be wondering: why would people spend hours of their own time to write software, carefully package it, and then give it all away? The answers are as varied as the people who contribute. Some people like to help others. Many write programs to learn more about computers. More and more people are looking for ways to avoid the inflated price of software. A growing crowd contribute as a thank you for all the great free software they've received from others. Many in academia create free software to help get the results of their research into wider use. Businesses help maintain free software so they can have a say in how it develops – there's no quicker way to get a new feature than to implement it yourself! Of course, a lot of us just find it great fun.

Debian is so committed to free software that we thought it would be useful if that commitment was formalized in a written document. Thus, our Social Contract was born.

Although Debian believes in free software, there are cases where people want or need to put non-free software on their machine. Whenever possible Debian will support this. There are even a growing number of packages whose sole job is to install non-free software into a Debian system.

What's New

Please be advised that this document has been updated as best to reflect Debian 12.3 being superseded by Debian 12.4. These changes came about from a last minute bug advisory of #1057843 concerning issues with kernel-image-6.1.0-14 (6.1.64-1).

Debian 12.4 is released with kernel-image-6.1.0-15 (6.1.66), along with a few other bug fixes

The Debian project is pleased to announce the fourth update of its stable distribution Debian 12 (codename bookworm). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 12 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old bookworm media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.

Those who frequently install updates from won't have to update many packages, and most such updates are included in the point release.

New installation images will be available soon at the regular locations.

Upgrading an existing installation to this revision can be achieved by pointing the package management system at one of Debian's many HTTP mirrors.

Complete releases notes can be found here.

Debian 12 Bookworm ships with several desktop environments, such as:

  • Gnome 43,
  • KDE Plasma 5.27,
  • LXDE 11,
  • LXQt 1.2.0,
  • MATE 1.26,
  • Xfce 4.18

This release contains over 11,089 new packages for a total count of 64,419 packages, while over 6,296 packages have been removed as obsolete. 43,254 packages were updated in this release. The overall disk usage for bookworm is 365,016,420 kB (365 GB), and is made up of 1,341,564,204 lines of code.

bookworm has more translated man pages than ever thanks to our translators who have made man-pages available in multiple languages such as: Czech, Danish, Greek, Finnish, Indonesian, Macedonian, Norwegian (Bokmål), Russian, Serbian, Swedish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. All of the systemd man pages are now completely available in German.

The Debian Med Blend introduces a new package: shiny-server which simplifies scientific web applications using R. We have kept to our efforts of providing Continuous Integration support for Debian Med team packages. Install the metapackages at version 3.8.x for Debian bookworm.

The Debian Astro Blend continues to provide a one-stop solution for professional astronomers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists with updates to almost all versions of the software packages in the blend. astap and planetary-system-stacker help with image stacking and astrometry resolution. openvlbi, the open source correlator, is now included. Support for Secure Boot on ARM64 has been reintroduced: users of UEFI-capable ARM64 hardware can boot with Secure Boot mode enabled to take full advantage of the security feature.

Debian 12 bookworm includes numerous updated software packages (over 67% of all packages from the previous release), such as:

  • Apache 2.4.57
  • BIND DNS Server 9.18
  • Cryptsetup 2.6
  • Dovecot MTA 2.3.19
  • Emacs 28.2
  • Exim (default email server) 4.96
  • GIMP 2.10.34
  • GNU Compiler Collection 12.2
  • GnuPG 2.2.40
  • Inkscape 1.2.2
  • The GNU C Library 2.36
  • lighthttpd 1.4.69
  • LibreOffice 7.4
  • Linux kernel 6.1 series
  • LLVM/Clang toolchain 13.0.1, 14.0 (default), and 15.0.6
  • MariaDB 10.11
  • Nginx 1.22
  • OpenJDK 17
  • OpenLDAP 2.5.13
  • OpenSSH 9.2p1
  • Perl 5.36
  • PHP 8.2
  • Postfix MTA 3.7
  • PostgreSQL 15
  • Python 3, 3.11.2
  • Rustc 1.63
  • Samba 4.17
  • systemd 252
  • Vim 9.0

With this broad selection of packages and its traditional wide architecture support, Debian once again stays true to its goal of being The Universal Operating System. It is suitable for many different use cases: from desktop systems to netbooks; from development servers to cluster systems; and for database, web, and storage servers. At the same time, additional quality assurance efforts like automatic installation and upgrade tests for all packages in Debian's archive ensure that bookworm fulfills the high expectations that users have of a stable Debian release.

A total of nine architectures are officially supported for bookworm:

  • 32-bit PC (i386) and 64-bit PC (amd64),
  • 64-bit ARM (arm64),
  • ARM EABI (armel),
  • ARMv7 (EABI hard-float ABI, armhf),
  • little-endian MIPS (mipsel),
  • 64-bit little-endian MIPS (mips64el),
  • 64-bit little-endian PowerPC (ppc64el),
  • IBM System z (s390x)

32-bit PC (i386) no longer covers any i586 processor; the new minimum processor requirement is i686. If your machine is not compatible with this requirement, it is recommended that you stay with bullseye for the remainder of its support cycle.
The Debian Cloud team publishes bookworm for several cloud computing services:

  • Amazon EC2 (amd64 and arm64),
  • Microsoft Azure (amd64),
  • OpenStack (generic) (amd64, arm64, ppc64el),
  • GenericCloud (arm64, amd64),
  • NoCloud (amd64, arm64, ppc64el)
  • The genericcloud image should be able to run in any virtualised environment, and there is also a nocloud image which is useful for testing the build process.